Usually around April 15 all we hear about are taxes, taxes, taxes. Now its jobs, jobs, jobs.
One of the bright parts of the jobs picture has been health care. While total payrolls have fallen by 1.4 million jobs over the past year, there are 250 thousand more health care jobs in the economy now than there were a year ago.
But is this a good thing?
According to one study, for every doctor treating patients there are 5 administrative support people. Which makes US health care a very labor-intensive industry. Hospitals have entire wings devoted to chasing down payments from insurers. If these people are helping our system deliver better care at lower prices it would be good, but I suspect that much of the labor growth in health care has be bureaucratic.
Ever since Tocqueville, Americans have been suspicious of centralized bureaucracy and its stultifying effect on local initiative. But health care seems mired in local red-tape, as anyone who has grappled with a hospital billing error can attest.
It’s unclear how the new health care bill will change this. What we need are more doctors and nurses. That would be healthy job growth.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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